Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is an amazing book that everyone thinks that they have read, knows what happens, can quote each character. Like so many classics it has been adapted, filmed, rethought so many times that it is easy to lose sight of the original text. The original Alice is clever, funny and resourceful, and far from the blonde pushed around by circumstance and the other characters. The reissue of this classic by Legend Press is an opportunity to rediscover the original. The book, which I received as a review copy, is a lovely example of a reprint done well. There are no disturbing illustrations, good quality paper has been used, and the text is clear and of a good size.
My relationship with this book began like many other people, a pocket money purchase which transformed their attitude to books and reading. Alice is a curious child in this book, baffled by everything but determined to do her best, remember her lessons and assert herself. She fixes on entering the garden she can see, and risks drinking and eating the strange bottles and foods which appear. She does so intelligently after a few disasters, including wondering what would happen if she is extinguished. I enjoyed her conversations with the other characters such as the Cheshire Cat, and attending the tea party at which she cannot have more tea, because she has not had any in the first place. She frees the pig baby, she defends herself and others from the Queen and is never more than bewildered and taken aback by what happens. Like other classics I was surprised how many quotes come from this book, and I have always remembered the versions of poems and songs which fill the story, even if I have no idea of the original Victorian classics. Alice is a fearless girl, and her elder sister realises that she will always remain an excellent story teller.
Altogether this is a lovely book which I enjoyed rediscovering, and it forms the basis of a set of classic novels which are well produced and entirely readable.
The other Legend Classic I received is Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne.
This book is a fast moving adventure set in 1872 featuring the memorable characters of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout speeding around the world in extravagant fashion. It has just been reprinted in the Legend Classics series, and I was very pleased to receive a review copy. It was a book that I only appreciated as an adult, but enjoyed greatly when I did read it properly. This edition is especially easy to read, being like the others of this series in a clear, good sized type on good quality paper. It also feels like a book that can actually be read, rather than kept on a shelf for reading on special occasions.
There have been many versions of this novel presented in film and even cartoon format. Phileas Fogg is a man of such regular habits as to be hardly human. His new servant, Passepartout, is impressed by his new master’s calmness and predictability, and has reason to be grateful for his unerring faith in his own ability to sort out difficulties. Their journey, undertaken for a wager as well as a desire to prove that the new modes of transport across the world mean swift efficient travel is possible and predictable, often involves unforeseen challenges. Elephants, rescues against the odds and even the effects of opium are explored in a book which establishes the travel novel in a developing world. The attitudes to the natives of the countries traversed can possibly surprise or even offend, but it is basically the hapless and annoying detective Fix who creates most problems for the travellers. The only female character is not greatly inspiring, being chiefly present to admire and be a travelling companion, but these were different times and in some ways different places. It is a book of adventure and overcoming the odds in which the hero is always a gentleman. It has become the starting point for interpretations which have involved affable tv presenters and dashing actors to enjoy themselves in many different settings. It is a period drama, with all the limitations and beautiful scenery that involves. The character of Passepartout has always been my favourite, as he will not be stopped even when everything seems against him.
For an entertaining read and an exciting adventure, this book would take some beating, and I recommend this edition to indulge in a perfect holiday read for all ages. It has the great advantage of being easy to transport in all senses…
Those of you with good eyesight will see that other classics are available!